Recommendations of the Swiss Cancer League
The Swiss Cancer League recommends early detection measures such as monthly self-examination, annual gynecological screening (with breast palpation) from the age of 40, basic mammography between the ages of 40 and 50, and mammograms at two-year intervals thereafter for women without a family history of breast cancer. For women with a family history of breast cancer, the examination intervals should be determined on an individual basis.
Breast cancer is a very common disease, with a risk of developing it being about 13 percent for women in Switzerland.
No apparent cause is found in 90 percent of all breast cancers. Factors such as hormone therapy, lifestyle, radiation exposure, obesity or diet may play a role, while 10 percent of all breast cancers are easily explainable. Predisposition to the disease is inherited from the parents. The frequent occurrence of breast cancer cases over several generations within the same family, a very young age of onset, or male breast cancer sufferers suggest an inherited predisposition to breast cancer. Where breast cancer is determined as genetic, there will be further cancer risks in other organs, and close relatives could also have an increased risk.
Genetic counseling allows an evaluation of whether clarification by means of genetic testing should be recommended. If so, testing will be arranged, and the results and possible consequences will be discussed afterwards.
Our lifestyle is one factor within a complex interaction of many causes involved in the development of breast cancer. What makes this factor special, however, is the possibility of being able to influence one’s own risk of disease by consciously changing one’s lifestyle. Numerous articles, also in the tabloid press, testify to a great interest in this topic. At the same time, the flood of information makes it difficult to distinguish effective recommendations from those that are not useful.
Observation of the sometimes marked geographic differences in breast cancer incidence had long suggested a link between lifestyle and disease. This can also be confirmed scientifically today. Numerous studies show that a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise and a normal body weight not only reduce the risk of breast cancer, but also positively influence the course of the disease. A clear link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer has also been demonstrated. This applies less clearly to smoking.